Hazing

Ryan Burke, one of the former fraternity members charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza, entered a guilty plea on Wednesday.
Min Xian / WPSU

One of the former fraternity members charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza formally entered a guilty plea on Wednesday. It’s the first guilty plea in the case.

Appearing in the Centre County courthouse for the first time in this case, Ryan Burke pleaded guilty to all nine charges against him.

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

A judge has dismissed the more severe charges against a second group of defendants in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza. With the ruling issued, a set of 25 former Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers will head to trial. 

Among this group of 12 defendants, five of the brothers, Joshua Kurczewski, Ryan Burke, Jonathan Kanzler, Bohan Song and Aiden O’Brien, were each charged with reckless endangerment, which is a second degree misdemeanor. 

A bicyclist rides past Pennsylvania State University's shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity house Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in State College, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

The three-day preliminary hearing for 12 defendants charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza completed on Friday. District judge Steve Lachman said he will announce on Monday whether the charges will go to trial.

These 12 defendants are the second group of former Beta Theta Pi brothers charged in the criminal investigation into the death of Piazza. 

State College police detective David Scicchitano left the courthouse in Bellefonte on Thursday.
Min Xian / WPSU

The preliminary hearing for 12 defendants charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza continued in the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte on Thursday. 

Prosecutors continued their effort in building the case against the former fraternity brothers, who face charges ranging from reckless endangerment to hazing and furnishing. The charges were filed based on security footage of the basement of the fraternity house. The FBI recovered it after it was allegedly deleted.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo spoke about the hazing case during a press conference in Harrisburg on Tuesday.
Min Xian / WPSU

Prosecutors from the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General began on Wednesday to build the case against 12 defendants for charges in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza. A new judge is presiding over the preliminary hearing and will decide whether the defendants will go to trial for charges including reckless endangerment, hazing and furnishing. 

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro had asked that involuntary manslaughter charges be reinstated against fraternity members in the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza.
Min Xian / WPSU

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday about the prosecution of fraternity members in the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza. Shapiro detailed why, after completing an “independent and comprehensive” review, his office is fighting to reinstate involuntary manslaughter charges against five defendants and drop those charges against some others.

As Penn State rolled out a series of measures last year to monitor and discipline Greek organizations, student leaders of the Greek community said they want to lead in reforms, but struggle with adjusting to new rules.
Min Xian / WPSU

As Penn State rolled out a series of measures last year to monitor and discipline Greek organizations, student leaders of the Greek community said they want to lead in reforms, but struggle with adjusting to new rules. 

John Lord, president of the Interfraternity Council, or IFC, at Penn State, said the council’s role is to govern and represent the 37 fraternity chapters. 

But, Lord said, when the university revokes recognition of a chapter, the IFC also loses grip on its oversight. 

Timothy Piazza's parents as they entered the courthouse this morning in Bellefonte.
Min Xian / WPSU

A judge has dismissed all involuntary manslaughter charges against five defendants in the Penn State hazing case in relation to the death of pledge Timothy Piazza. This is the second time Judge Allen Sinclair has thrown out those charges. 

The judge also dismissed all the reckless endangerment charges that eight defendants faced. Those charges were refiled by former Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller last November, after Sinclair dismissed them last September. 

Jim and Evelyn Piazza left the courthouse with their lawyers on Tuesday, after hearing closing statements for the second preliminary hearing for the hazing case resulting in the death of their son, Tim Piazza.
Min Xian / WPSU

Prosecution and defense have made their closing statements for the second preliminary hearing of the Penn State hazing death case. The judge is expected to rule on the charges Wednesday.

After cross-examinations with State College Police Detective David Scicchitano, defense attorneys made their closing statements one by one. The common theme was that the prosecution has no new evidence compared to the first hearing last year.

Defense lawyers argued fraternity members each had minimal responsibility in giving Tim Piazza alcohol and recognizing his fatal injuries.

A bicyclist rides past Pennsylvania State University's shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity house Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in State College, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Updated on March 27, 11:31 a.m.

 

The preliminary hearing for the Penn State hazing death case continued on Monday with new video evidence. The prosecution presented surveillance footage from the basement of the fraternity house recovered by the FBI.

 

Outside the courthouse, during a break from the proceedings on Friday, state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman released the details of the "Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law," joined by the Piazza family and Penn State president Eric Barron.
Min Xian / WPSU

Updated on March 23, 8:59 p.m.

The preliminary hearing for the Penn State hazing death case resumed on Friday in the Centre County courthouse.

Eleven former Beta Theta Pi members are facing charges in relation to the death of pledge Timothy Piazza in February 2017. Those charges range from involuntary manslaughter to hazing. All 11 defendants waived their right to be in court.

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office has dropped all assault charges and some involuntary manslaughter charges in the hazing case in relation to the death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo filed a notice in court Thursday, saying the prosecutors will drop all aggravated assault and simple assault charges, but will continue to press involuntary manslaughter charges against five defendants.

A bicyclist rides past Pennsylvania State University's shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity house Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in State College, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is taking over the prosecution of the Penn State hazing case after new Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna recused himself.

In a statement, spokesperson Joe Grace said, "The Office of Attorney General Shapiro reviewed the basis for the conflict and pursuant to the Commonwealth Attorneys Act has accepted the matter."

Cantorna, then district attorney-elect, announced in November that he would recuse himself from the Penn State hazing death case, citing conflicts of interest.

Bernie Cantorna at a campaign event.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Centre County District Attorney-elect Bernie Cantorna announced Tuesday that he will recuse himself from the Penn State hazing death case and has asked Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro to take over.

In a statement, Cantorna cited conflicts of interest.

“Because I previously served as counsel to some of those involved in these cases, I sought the advice of the State Bar Ethics Committee about how to handle these matters going forward,” Cantorna said of his decision. “I have done that so these cases can move forward in an efficient, timely and above board manner.”

Students sign the anti-hazing pledge Wednesday afternoon.
Michael Cavallaro / IFC

In the wake of Penn State fraternity member Timothy Piazza’s hazing death in February, the Interfraternity Council is hosting Anti-Hazing Week.

At the bustling HUB-Robeson Center Wednesday afternoon, students signed a pledge against hazing.

Devon McDuffy signed the pledge. She said after what happened to Piazza, the community must come together to understand hazing has always been a problem.